Despite reports to the contrary, the Detroit Red Wings did not sign forward Kris Draper to a new contract late Wednesday night. Draper, who had a career year last season, has become an unrestricted free agent along with Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, Mathieu Schneider and Boyd Devereaux.
Brett Hull, Steve Thomas and Dominik Hasek also became unrestricted free agents but the Red Wings had already notified them that the team would not attempt to resign them. Hasek is reportedly close to a deal with the Ottawa Senators.
NHL free agency began at midnight on Thursday. Unrestricted free agents across the league include Ottawa’s Peter Bondra, Colorado’s Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, Los Angeles’ Jason Allison and New York’s Eric Lindros.
Detroit captain Steve Yzerman is also an unrestricted free agent but he is expected to sign with the Red Wings as soon as he recovers from his season-ending facial injury.
Draper is reportedly close to a deal and some rumors say he had even signed a new contract but nothing is done yet between him and the club.
Shanahan and Chelios both intend to stay in Detroit and are close to deals. Schneider and the Red Wings are far apart and Schneider is expected to garner interest from Los Angeles and the New York Rangers, teams he had previously played on.
The Red Wings are interested at brining back Devereaux at significantly less than the $1.6 million he made last season.
Restricted free agents on the Detroit roster include Mathieu Dandenault and Jiri Fischer and forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Jason Williams.